Biosphere 2: Background information when reading The Terranauts

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Terranauts

by T.C. Boyle

The Terranauts by T.C. Boyle X
The Terranauts by T.C. Boyle
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2016, 528 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2017, 528 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
James Broderick

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Biosphere 2

Print Review

In Oracle, Arizona, sits one of the more intriguing experiments in "closed-system" science ever devised: Biosphere 2, which forms the backdrop for the novel, The Terranauts. Originally built to demonstrate that humans could construct and live sustainably for long periods in an artificially created world, the huge glass domes that make up the structure no longer host human inhabitants. However, far from becoming a white elephant, Biosphere 2 remains an active laboratory for scientific research and outreach, hosting visitors ranging from elementary schools to post-graduate scientific researchers.

Biosphere 2Construction of Biosphere 2, which began in 1987, took four years. Shortly after it was completed, a group of eight researchers entered the facility for a two-year residency. Each of the inhabitants was in charge of different aspects of the self-contained world. The five biomes consisted of a rain forest; an ocean, (a tank 100 x 60 feet, approximately 25 feet deep, with a lagoon, a coral reef, a sandy beach, and a series of pumps that operate as a wave machine); a wetlands; a savannah grassland; and a desert. Plants such as bananas, papayas, potatoes, and beans; livestock (five goats, three pigs, dozens of hens and roosters); and tilapia grown in a rice pond supplied the majority of food for the biospherians. Food shortages led to persistent hunger among most of the inhabitants for much of their time inside the structure, which also included modest living quarters.

Although no one was supposed to "break containment," it was revealed during the first mission that an injured crew member did leave, and even brought in some supplies when re-entering the facility. However, the mission continued, ending Sept. 26, 1993, exactly two years to the day after the biospherians were sealed in. A second mission with another cohort began in March 1994, but ended prematurely in September of that year due largely to financial problems with the private company, Space Biosphere Ventures, that financed and managed the facility.

In 1995, Columbia University took over the management of the biosphere, using it as a research facility until 2003. Shortly thereafter, the owners of the site—which includes 1,600 acres surrounding the biosphere as a kind of desert campus—put it all up for sale. The surrounding land was purchased for housing and resort development, but the biosphere itself was acquired by the University of Arizona, which uses it today for educational and research purposes.

Picture of Biosphere 2 by DrStarbuck

Article by James Broderick

This article was originally published in January 2017, and has been updated for the October 2017 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Word Is Murder
    The Word Is Murder
    by Anthony Horowitz
    A wealthy widow enters a London funeral home to make arrangements for her own funeral. Six hours ...
  • Book Jacket: Call Me American
    Call Me American
    by Abdi Nor Iftin
    As a boy growing up in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Abdi Nor Iftin loved watching action ...
  • Book Jacket
    Driving Miss Norma
    by Ramie Liddle, Tim Bauerschmidt
    In my cultural life, I've met and been awed by two Normas: The demanding, clueless, fiercely ...
  • Book Jacket
    Driving Miss Norma
    by Ramie Liddle, Tim Bauerschmidt
    In my cultural life, I've met and been awed by two Normas: The demanding, clueless, fiercely ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

From a dazzling new literary voice, a debut novel about a Palestinian family caught between present and past.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    A Place for Us
    by Fatima Farheen Mirza

    A deeply moving story of love, identity and belonging--the first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win If You See Me, Don't Say Hi

If You See Me, Don't Say Hi by Neel Patel

Patel's stories introduce a bold and timely new literary voice.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A P Saved I A P E

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.